Sunday, 31 July 2016

Power Grid: Australia

Plays: 6Px1.

I own many expansion maps of Power Grid, but in recent years I have stopped buying because I don't play Power Grid often. I don't own the Australia / India expansion, but I had a chance to try it when Ivan brought it to The cities on the Australian map look like this.

One cheeky thing about this map is the cities are drawn upside down, because Australia is "Down Under". The map has a few variant rules. One of them is that when you expand your network, you can spend $20 to establish presence in any city on the board. This is why those two isolated networks in the red area can exist.

Another rule change is related to nuclear plants. Nuclear plants are not allowed in Australia. However uranium is mined in Australia and exported. When you play this map, the nuclear plants represent uranium mines instead. During the bureaucracy stage, instead of powering cities for you, they earn you cash directly based on the uranium price at the time. Every time a player sells uranium, the price drops. At the end of every round, the price recovers, based on the resource replenishment table - that row in pink.

The third main rule change is in Stage 3 of the game. Resource prices jump up due to a new tax. In this photo you can see the resource market being split into two sections, the shorter section currently being empty. This section is only used in Stage 3 when resources become more expensive.

This photo was taken in the early game. We had six players, and five were crowded in eastern and south eastern Australia. I (green) started in Brisbane and Gold Coast. The two main cities Sydney and Melbourne each have two halves, each half being treated as an individual city, with no connection cost between them. This is attractive to players.

Sinbad was blue. He started in Perth. There were only 5 cities in this area, so once a player started here, nobody else wanted to come because it would be suicide to crowd into such a small area in the early game.

Ivan (I think) was yellow and started in Sydney, and got surrounded by Allen (red). He had to spend the $20 to jump to South Australia. I (green) expanded peacefully in Queensland.

Jeff (black) wouldn't leave me alone and jumped to Queensland to mess with my expansion. He needed to escape the south eastern corner anyhow because it was crowded. It was just a question of where to jump to. Purple had jumped to the Northern Territory. Sinbad (blue) had filled up Western Australia, and had now jumped to Tasmania.

Despite the few rule changes, Power Grid is still Power Grid. The basic principles and strategies still apply. This is a game won and lost on dollars and cents. Every Elektro (the currency in the game) counts. I was a little sloppy and by late game could not catch up with the rest. I was a little wasteful. I probably spent more than I should have when bidding for power plants. I wasn't meticulous enough in my planning. One thing I like about Power Grid is how every time I lose, I can look back and see exactly why I lost. This shows how strategic the game is, and how much my decisions matter. Players who like Power Grid will like this map. When we played, we used the expansion power plants (they have green borders). Ivan and Jeff said this power plant deck is better balanced. I'm not yet at the skill level to be able to appreciate this balance myself.

This photo was taken when we entered the 3rd Stage. The moment Stage 3 began, we had to move the 6 cheapest resources of each type to the $9 and $10 spots, i.e. the smaller section of the resource market. From that point on, resources would cost at least $3. The $1 and $2 spots were no longer in use. Our eventual winner was Ivan. He powered the exact number of cities required to win. No others could reach that in the same round as him, so there was no need for a tiebreaker. In Power Grid, players often tie in the number of cities powered, so money often comes into play as the tiebreaker. Uranium mines (nuclear plants) play an important role in Australia because in the last round, they still generate income, and that additional money can often mean win or lose.

1 comment:

Paul Owen said...

I'm very fond of Power Grid. I'd love to try the Australia map.